Steps for safe digging
Spring is an optimal time of year to dream up and achieve your landscaping masterpiece, but in many parts of the country, planting shrubs in early fall gives the plants a head start at establishing roots in the season’s cool, moist soil. Perhaps you’re planning to build a new deck to enjoy those cool autumn evenings. If any of your fall projects require digging––such as planting trees or shrubs, or setting posts––remember to dial 811 first.
Underground utilities, such as buried gas, water and electric lines, can be a shovel thrust away from turning a fall project into a disaster.
Play it safe by dialing 811 to find out where utility lines run on your property. Your call will be routed to a local “one call” center. Tell the operator where you’re planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing, and affected local utilities will be notified.
In a few days, a locator will arrive to designate the approximate location of any underground lines, pipes and cables. These areas will be marked with flags or paint so you’ll know what’s below. Then the safe digging can begin.
Although many homeowners tackling do-it-yourself digging projects are aware of “Call Before You Dig” services, the majority doesn’t take advantage of the service. A national survey showed that only 50 percent of homeowners called to have their lines marked before starting digging projects, according to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), a federally mandated group of underground utility and damage prevention industry professionals. CGA data also shows that an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes in the U.S. because someone decided to dig without first dialing 811.
Even simple tasks like installing a new mailbox post can damage utility lines, which can disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, harm diggers and potentially result in fines and repair costs.
Never assume the location or depth of underground utility lines. There’s no need: the 811 service is free, prevents the inconvenience of having utilities interrupted and can help you avoid serious injury. For more information about local services, visit www.call811.com.
Safe Electricity is the safety outreach program of the Energy Education Council, a non-profit organization with more than 400 electric cooperative members and many others who share the mission of educating the public about electrical safety and energy efficiency.
CGA is a member-driven association of 1,500 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has established itself as the leading organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders.